January 12

How to get over the jet-lag blues…

8  comments

How to get over the jet-lag blues…

I’ve been staring at my screen for 30 minutes, willing myself to write and coming up blank.  I can’t think of anything vaguely interesting to share with you, or any reason why you would want to read what I’m writing.

This is in stark contrast to my normal mode of life: an early morning wake-up bursting with ideas, followed by a full weekend in the kitchen making projects, notepad at the ready to capture ideas as they strike, and still not enough time to share all my exciting new discoveries with you!

So what’s the difference this time?

Jet lag.

I recently spent a week in the USA, and now several days later I’m sort-of adjusted back to London time… but mentally I’m just not here.  And worst of all, I’m heading back to the US again next weekend, so will go through this fun process yet again … two more times!

The more I travel, the more I realize that jet lag doesn’t just affect the quality of my sleep – it seems to throw off my entire day.  My normal morning creativeness has disappeared, and I feel mentally dull.  I need some kitchen remedies ASAP!

Here’s the plan.  I’m going to use myself as guinea pig and start testing some simple home remedies for jet lag.  Much like The Sleep Experiment, this isn’t scientific, but I really need some help!

What are your favorite remedies, tips & tricks for jet lag?  Leave them in the comments, by email or on twitter or facebook

Ready? Let’s get started…

What causes jet lag?

Jet lag is essentially a sleep disorder where your body clock is thrown off.  Normally your body clock operates on approximately a 24 hour cycle, which tells you when to wake up and when to go to bed.  When your body clock is confused by switching timezones, you might experience a whole set of symptoms including insomnia, fatigue, irritability, grogginess, headaches, mild depression and constipation.  The perfect way to start or end a vacation!

And now onto my jet lag home remedies…

Normally my first stop for home remedy research is my library of vintage books.  Unfortunately, jet lag is a thoroughly modern phenomenon.  When great-grandma took an Atlantic crossing by boat, she had several days to adjust to the new time zone during the journey.  Easy (aside from the seasickness, of course.)  So let’s look at some other options for simple home remedies for jet lag.

Herbs

Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine recommends using herbs which help to reset the biological clock such as:

  • Ginseg
  • Garlic
  • Gotu Kola
  • Kola
  • Capsicum

He also says that Ginseg is a melatonin stimulant.  I’m interested to try ginseg (boosts immunity, reduces stress, helps keep up energy) and garlic (great for the immune system).

On a personal note, I was thinking of adding:

  • lemon balm which is a mild anti-depressant
  • skullcap to calm my mind
  • oats as a nerve restorative
  • and possibly valerian to induce sleep.

My thoughts: You know how I love my herbal teas.  I’ll definitely try a few combinations to see if anything helps.  Any herbalists out there have recommendations?

Aromatherapy

  •  Use two different sets of oils – one to revive you, and one to relax you before sleeping.
    • Jet lag “wake up” mixture: geranium, grapefruit and rosemary.
    • Jet lag “sleepy” mixture: lavender and sandalwood.
  • My thoughts: I will definitely try this, I love essential oils because they’re so versatile and easy to use.  I’ll probably make a spray and a body oil. 

Supplements

  • Melatonin:  Melatonin is “the hormone of darkness”.  Normally it’s secreted in your body in the evening, and tells your body to get ready for sleep.  The theory is that you can take a melatonin supplement (pill) 30 minutes before you want to go to bed, and it will give your body the boost of melatonin that is missing during jet lag.
    • My thoughts: I am not very keen on taking pills, especially with hormones in them!  But I have heard such good things from friends about melatonin, I will give it a try this time.   Stay tuned for the results!  Have you tried melatonin? How did it work for you?

Lifestyle changes:

  • No alcohol / caffeine on the airplane:  The theory here is that alcohol and caffeine are both dehydrating, and they can both disrupt your sleep.  So, avoid both on the plane, try to take a nap instead, and arrive at your destination hydrated and refreshed.
    • My thoughts:  I really like a glass of wine on the airplane… I’m a bit jumpy during turbulence, and the alcohol definitely helps with that!  Not sure I’m ready to give that up yet.  But I will try limiting the alcohol, and drinking an extra amount of water!
  • Keeping your home timezone on the trip:  This remedy involves keeping your home sleep/wake times during your trip.  It  works best on short trips when you’re in control of your schedule.  It also may involve waking up or going to bed REALLY early (or late), depending on your direction of travel.
    • My thoughts: not practical for my upcoming trips where I have several scheduled events in the evenings!
  • The anti-jet lag diet: This diet starts 3 days before you begin travel, and alternates feasting and fasting days to help your body prepare to reset the biological clock.  Hmmm… sounds kind of complicated?
    • My thoughts: If my jet lag only lasts 4-5 days normally, not sure I want to inconvenience myself for 4 days before the flight and risk jet lag after.   Has anyone tried it?
 
What are your favorite jet lag remedies?  I’ll report back after I’ve had a chance to test some of them – but would love to hear your tips in the comments!

 

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  1. Jet lag or flight fatigue, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones. The longer the distance you cover, the more severe a jet lag becomes. Here are some helpful tips to deal with jet lag http://tinyurl.com/m53hwpz

  2. Dying to know what works – just home from Dubai yesterday afternoon and going through nauseous/constipated/achey symptoms right now 🙁 Having had a drink on the plane and failed to sleep (7h flight) I’m feeling totally yucky and have had two naps today already. Luckily I’m not back in work til Tuesday, but I have got kids coming home from school soon!

    1. Hi Kerri, totally feel for you! Try to get some sunshine (15-20min) each morning for the next few days which will help to reset your body clock. Ad start going to bed at a normal time as much as possible… If you’re not tired try taking a warm lavender bath 30min before bedtime. Also, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Ad go gently on yourself these first few days, it just takes time…

  3. Thanks Rozenn, I’ll try the meditation thing! At least it would make me more relaxed in the plane (without wine!)

  4. I heard the same as Wendy and I was lucky enough to get flights that arrive in the evening when I travelled east / west and it worked well for me.

    I used melatonin for sleep issues and it ‘works’ but I find it weird. It makes it hard for me to wake up in the night (so if I need the loo, I stumble and am not in great control of my movements) I fall back asleep in no time but it doesn’t make me have a deep sleep so I still had the nightmares and other sleep problems. And I find it hard to feel awake in the morning after.

    One trick I was recommended is to meditate in the plane. I think the rhythm is 10 minutes meditation every 2 hours. I learnt TM, which is said to be miraculous but personally, I don’t see why other methods wouldn’t do the same. I have friends who say that since they do that, they feel NO jet lag. I haven’t been able to check this but hey, it can’t hurt to give it a try!

  5. I would definitely try the lemon balm. I don’t travel but my daughter went to Europe and used lemon balm and she said it definitely helped. She just used it as an inhalant. 🙂

  6. I’d recommend checking out the Owens Acres website under travel. Here’s the link:
    http://owensacres.com/Travel.html

    Laura, the owner of Owens Acres, is a certified master herbalist. She’s got different herbal teas (in travel tins too!) for stress, jet lag, sleep, headaches, upset stomach. And aroma inhalers too! and a headache balm that I’ve used which works great! Oh, and if you have herbalist questions Laura is a friendly and fantastic resource. Go ahead and shoot her an email. I’m currently working on a review of some of her teas and other products for my blog.

  7. hmm I suppose mine just involves a lot of sleep! I try to schedule my flights so that I arrive not to long before the local bedtime, stay awake til a normal sleeptime on arrival. I also take dramamine when flying as i’m a pukey flyer(!) and this makes me sleep on the plane.
    the faster I get into the local sleepy time the better I feel. little or no alcohol or my usual diet coke on plane just lots and lots of water. try rescue remedy instead of wine for the turbulence?

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